12 February 2020 | 4 minutes.

Maritime sector looks at reducing emissions

Takis Varelas
Director, Danaos Research Center (DRC)

Takis Varelas, Director, Danaos Research Center (DRC)

DANAOS Shipping outlines the future

Will innovation in shipping reduce carbon emissions by 2050?

Emissions reduction and environmental sustainability is on everyone’s lips these days in shipping. The International Maritime Organization (IMO) has adopted regulations to address the emission of air pollutants from ships and has adopted mandatory energy-efficiency measures to reduce emissions of greenhouse gases from international shipping. A target of at least a 50% reduction in total annual GHG emissions from ships is pursued for 2050 compared to 2008 figures, while at the same time there will be efforts to even achieve a zero-emission shipping operation. Under this scope, it seems that the only path to follow to reach the destination is to start thinking differently and invest in innovation. Retrofit solutions and emission control technologies would be one way to reduce emissions. Changing to low emission fuel types (biofuels, Low Sulphur oil, etc.) or alternative energy sources (batteries, fuel cells, nuclear power etc.) could lead to greener shipping operations. All these abatement measures have pros and cons and at the same time benefits brought forward looks quite controversial in reference to environmental impact. Industry needs time to consider options, experiment with different solutions and assess effectiveness of each innovation in terms of cost and reliability.

How would you describe the EU’s efforts in reducing emissions in the sector?

The European Union embraces the global initiative for environmental sustainability. The strategic framework of the European Commission’s policy consists of three consecutive steps. 1. Monitoring, reporting and verification of CO2 emissions from large ships using EU ports (MRV regulation)  2. Greenhouse gas reduction targets for the maritime transport sector and 3. Further measures, including market-based measures, in the medium to long-term. Within this framework, we should highlight the strong motivation of the research community to foster policies against pollution in EU waters. The EU funds conglomerations from distinct disciplines that are working together with the maritime industry to better understand the different environmental processes, the impacts of human activities and of climate change on marine environments, and the socio-economic impacts of the protection of the marine environment.

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